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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesO. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 31
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O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 31 Post by :twoelfling Category :Long Stories Author :Hans Christian Andersen Date :May 2012 Read :3114

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O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 31


"The monastery is still called 'Andersskov' (the wood of Anders) in memory of its being the habitation of the pious Anders.

"The hill on which he awoke, comforted by sleep, is still called 'Hvile hoi' (the hill of rest). A cross having a Latin inscription, half-effaced, marks the spot."--J. L. HEIBERG.

It was spring, fresh, life-bearing spring! Only one day and one night, and the birds of passage were back again; the woods made themselves once more young with green, odorous leaves; the Sound had its swimming Venice of richly laden vessels; only one day and one night, and Sophie was removed from Otto--they were divided by the salt sea; but it was spring in his heart; from it flew his thoughts, like birds of passage, to the island of Funen, and there sang of summer. Hope gave him more "gold and green woods" than the ships bear through the Sound, more than Zealand's bays can show. Sophie at parting pressed his hand. In her eyes lay what his heart might hope and dream.

He forgot that hope and dreams were the opposites of reality.

Cousin Joachim had gone to Stockholm, and would not return either in the spring or summer to Funen. On the contrary, Otto intended to spend a few weeks at the country-seat; not before August would he and Wilhelm travel. There would at least be one happy moment, and many perhaps almost as happy. In his room stood a rose-bush, the first buds formed themselves, and opened their red lips--as pure and tender as these leaves was Sophie's cheek: he bent over the flower, smiled and read there sweet thoughts which were related to his love. A rose-bud is a sweet mystery.

"The myriad leaves enmaze
Small labyrinthine ways
Where spicy odor flows,
Thou lovelv bud o' the rose!"

The day came on which Otto, after he had comfortably terminated his visits of leave-taking, at midday, in the company of three young students travelled away through Zealand. They had taken a carriage together as far as Slagelse, where, like Abraham's and Lot's shepherds, they should separate to the right and left. Otto remained alone, in order to travel post that night to Nyborg. It was only four o'clock in the afternoon, Otto had no acquaintance here, therefore it was but to take a walk.

"There still exist remains of the old Antvorskov convent, (Author's Note: The convent was founded by Waldemar I., 1177.) do there not?" asked he.

"Yes, but very little!" answered the host. "The convent became a castle, the castle a private house, and now within the last few years, on account of the stones, it has been still more pulled down. You will find nothing old remaining, except here and there in the garden a piece of a red wall standing out. But the situation is beautiful! If you will only take the road toward the large village called Landsgrav, you are on the way to Korsoer, and close to the cross of the holy Anders. It is a right pleasant excursion!"

"Convent ruins and the holy cross!" said Otto; "that sounds quite romantic!" And he commenced his wanderings.

A few scholars from the Latin school, with their books held together by a strait, and then a square built lancer, who greeted in military style an elderly-young lady, who was seated behind a barricade of geraniums and wall flowers, were the only individuals he met with on his way. Yet Otto remarked that the windows were opened as he passed; people wanted to see who the stranger might be who was going up the street.

A long avenue led from the town to the castle. On either side the way lay detached houses, with little gardens. Otto soon reached the remains of old Antvorskov. The way was red from the stones which were flung about, and were now ground to dust. Huge pieces of wall, where the mortar and stone were united in one piece, lay almost concealed among the high nettles. Rather more distant stood a solitary house of two stories. It was narrow, and whitewashed. A thick pilaster, such as one sees in churches, supported the strong wall. This was half of the last wing of the castle,--a mingling of the ancient and incident, of ruin and dwelling-house.

Otto went into the garden, which was laid out upon the hill itself, and its terraces. Here were only young trees; but the walks were everywhere overgrown. The view stretched itself far over the plain, toward the Belt and Funen. He descended from the terrace down to the lowest wall. In this there yet remained a piece of an old tombstone, of the age of the convent, on which you perceived the trace of a female form; and near to this the figure of a skeleton, round which was twined a snake. Otto stood sunk in contemplation, when an old man, with two water-buckets suspended from a yoke on his shoulders, approached a near well.

The old man was very ready to commence a conversation. He told of excavations, and of an underground passage which had not been discovered, but which, according to his opinion, was certainly in existence. So far they had only found a few walled-round spaces, which had most probably been prisons. In one of these was an iron chain fastened into the wall. But with regard to the underground passage, they had only not yet discovered the right place, for it must exist. It led from here, deep under the lake and forest, toward Soroe. There were large iron gates below. At Christmas one could hear how they were swung to and fro. "Whoever should have that which is concealed there," said the old man, "would be a made man, and need not neither slip nor slide."

Otto looked at the solitary wing which rose up over the terrace. How splendid it had been here in former times!

Close to the large wood, several miles in extent, which stretches itself on the other side of Soroe, down to the shore of the King's Brook, lay the rich convent where Hans Tausen spoke what the Spirit inspired him with. Times changed; the convent vanished;

"Halls of state
Tower upon that spot elate;
Where the narrow cell once stood;"
(Author's Note: Anders-skov, by Oehlenschlager.)

where the monks sang psalms, knights and ladies danced to the sound of beating drums: but these tone's ceased; the blooming cheeks became dust. It was again quiet. Many a pleasant time did Holberg ride over from Soroe, through the green wood, to visit the steward of Antvorskov. Otto recollected what one of his daughters, when an old woman, had related to a friend of his. She was a child, and lay in the cradle, when old Holberg came riding there, with a little wheaten loaf and a small pot of preserve in his pocket--his usual provision on such little excursions. The steward's young wife sat at her spinning-wheel. Holberg paced up and down the room with the husband; they were discussing politics. This interested the wife, and she joined in the conversation. Holberg turned round to her,-- "I fancy the distaff speaks!" said he. This the wife could never forget. (Translator's Note: Rokkehoved, distaff, means also dunce in Danish.)

Otto smiled at this recollection of the witty but ungallant poet, quitted the garden, and went through a winding hollow way, where the luxuriant briers hung in rich masses over the stone fence. Slagelse, with its high hills in the background, looked picturesque. He soon reached Landsgrav. The sun went down as he walked over the field where the wooden cross stands, with its figure of the Redeemer, in memory of the holy Anders. Near it he perceived a man, who appeared to kneel. One hand held fast by the cross; in the other was a sharp knife, with which he was probably cutting out his name. He did not observe Otto. Near the man lay a box covered with green oil-cloth; and in the grass lay a knapsack, a pair of boots, and a knotty stick. It must be a wandering journeyman, or else a pedlar.

Otto was about to return, when the stranger rose and perceived him. Otto stood as if nailed to the earth. It was the German Heinrich whom he saw before him.

"Is not that Mr. Thostrup?" said the man and that horrible grinning smile played around his mouth. "No, that I did not expect!"

"Does it go well with you, Heinrich?" asked Otto.

"There's room for things to mend!" replied Heinrich "It goes better with you! Good Lord, that you should become such a grand gentleman! Who would have thought it, when you rode on my knee, and I pricked you in the arm? Things go on strangely in this world! Have you heard of your sister? She was not so much spoiled as you! But she was a beautiful child!"

"I have neither seen her nor my parents!" replied he, with a trembling which he strove to conquer. "Do you know where she is?"

"I am always travelling!" said Heinrich; "but thus much I know, that she is still in Funen. Yes, she must take one of us, an unpretending husband! You can choose a genteel young lady for yourself. That's the way when people are lucky. You will become a landed proprietor. Old Heinrich will then no doubt obtain permission to exhibit his tricks on your estate? But none of its will speak of former times!--of the red house on the Odense water!" This last he whispered quite low. "I shall receive a few shillings from you?" he asked.

"You shall have more!" said Otto, and gave to him. "But I wish us to remain strangers to each other, as we are!"

"Yes, certainly, certainly!" said Heinrich, and nodded affirmatively with his head, whilst his eyes rested on the gift Otto had presented him with. "Then you are no longer angry with my joke in Jutland?" asked he with a simpering smile, and kissed Otto's hand. "I should not have known you then. Had you not shown me your shoulder, on which I saw the letters O and T which I myself had etched, it would never have occurred to me that we knew each other! But a light suddenly flashed across me. I should have said Otto Thostrup; but I said 'Odense Tugt-huus.' (Note: Odense house of correction.) That was not handsome of me, seeing you are such a good gentleman!"

"Yes, now adieu!" said Otto, and extended to him unwillingly his hand.

"There, our Saviour looks down upon us!" said the German Heinrich, and fixed his eyes upon the figure on the cross. "As certainly as He lives may you rely upon the silence of my mouth. He is my Redeemer, who hangs there on the cross, just as he is etched upon my skin, and as he stands along the high-roads in my father-land. Here is the only place in the whole country where the sign of the cross stands under the free heaven; here I worship: for you must know, Mr. Thostrup, I am not of your faith, but of the faith of the Virgin Mary. Here I have cut into the wood the holy sign, such as is placed over every door in my father-land,--an I, an H, and this S. In this is contained my own name; for H stands for Heinrich; I, for I myself; and S means Sinner; that is, I, Heinrich, Sinner. Now I have completed my worship, and you have given me a handsome skilling, I shall now go to my bed at the public-house; and if the girl is pretty, and lets one flatter her, I am still young enough, and shall fancy that I am Mr. Thostrup, and have won that most glorious, elegant young lady! Hurrah! it is a player's life which we lead!"

Otto left him, but heard how Heinrich sang:

"Tri, ri, ro,
The summer comes once mo!
To beer, boys! to beer
The winter lies in bands, O!
And he who won't come here,
We'll trounce him with our wands, O!
Yo, yo, yo,
The summer comes once mo!"

As, suddenly on a clear sunny day, a cloud can appear, extinguish the warm sunshine, conceal the green coast, and change everything into gray mist forms, so was it now with Otto, who had but just before felt himself so happy and full of youthful joy.

"You can sleep quietly!" said the host, when Otto returned to Slagelse; "you shall be wakened early enough to leave with the mail."

But his rest was like a delirium.

The post-horn sounded in the empty street; they rolled away--it was at daybreak.

"Is that a gallows?" inquired one of the travellers, and pointed toward the hill, where at this distance the cross looked like a stake.

"That is the cross of the holy Anders!" replied Otto; and livingly stood before him the recollections of the evening before.

"Does that really exist?" said the stranger. "I have read of it in the 'Letters of a Wandering Ghost.'"

This was a beautiful morning, the sun shone warmly, the sea was smooth as a mirror, and so much the faster did the steamboat glide away. The vessel with the mail, which had set sail two hours earlier, still lay not far from land. The sails hung down loosely; not a breeze stirred them.

The steamboat glided close past her; the passengers in the mail-vessel, the greater portion coachmen, travelling journeymen, and peasants, stood on the deck to see it. They waved greetings. One of the foremost leaned on his knotty stick, pulled off his hat, and shouted, "Good morning, my noble gentlefolk!" It was the German Heinrich; he then was going to Funen. Otto's heart beat faster, he gazed down among the rushing waves which foamed round the paddle, where the sunbeams painted a glorious rainbow.

"That is lovely!" said one of the strangers, close to him.

"Very lovely!" returned Otto, and stilled the sigh which would burst forth from his breast.

Scarcely two hours were fled--the cables were flung upon the Nyborg bridge of boats, and the steamboat made fast to the island of Funen.

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O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 32 O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 32

O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 32
CHAPTER XXXII "It is so sweet when friendly hands bid you a hearty welcome, so dear to behold well-known features ver you turn your eyes. Everything seems so home-like and quiet about you and in your own breast." HENRIETTE HAUCK. Otto immediately hired a carriage, and reached the hall just about dinner-time. In the interior court-yard stood two calashes and an Holstein carriage; two strange coachmen, with lace round their hats, stood in animated discourse when Otto drove in through the gate. The postilion blew his horn. "Be quiet there!" cried Otto. "There are strangers at the hall!"

O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 30 O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 30

O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 30
CHAPTER XXX... "We live through others,We think we are others; we seemOthers to be ... And so think others of us."SCHEFER. When the buds burst forth we will burst forth also! had Otto and Wilhelm often said. Their plan was, in the spring to travel immediately to Paris, but on their way to visit the Rhine, and to sail from Cologne to Strasburg. "Yes, one must see the Rhine first!" said Cousin Joachim; "when one has seen Switzerland and Italy, it does not strike one nearly as much. That must be your first sight; but you should not see it in